Press enter after choosing selection

A Romance Of Two Brothers

A Romance Of Two Brothers image A Romance Of Two Brothers image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

Author of "The Confessions of Claud," "An Ambitious Woman," "The Evil That Men Do," "A New York Family," Etc. [Copyright, 1890, By Edgar Fawcett.] She gave a great start when Bhe saw lám. "IIow inad as this?" she exclaimed. "Don't you know that you run the risk of killing1 yourself?' "I run the risk i f boinij killed by you," he s;iil. witb a voice bleak in itself yet sounding all the stranger because ir those days of dumbm "Jiy me!"' she broke out shrilly. What dn you mean? But you mustn't answer - you mustn't speak, you must only go straight back to your bod. " "I trill Bpeak a littlc," he replied. "I lüill say this much, Georgina: that I believe you've come in here while I was ill and stolen a certain flask. It's that IVe been searching for. Hender it up to me if you have it." She chang-ed color a little, and said coldly: "I don't at all understandyou." "Oh, yes, you do. Como, now; give me the flask. You dare not deny that you have taken it. Nobody would have done so except y öurself." ; Her lip curied and shc gTew paler. This is so senseless of you," she muttered. "IIow could I possibly know there was anv flask that contained your elixir?" "Ah!" he cried, "have I ever rfferred to the elixir? There spoke your own guilty conscience!" Ilis anier made Tiim look like some vcngeful ghost. He raised one clenched hand. '-You heard □ie talk in my delirium about thafc flask!' lic went on, "or else you had spied on me durinj? those days I worked ïo hard, after I had been fooi enough to iet you learn my secret. You don't want to have my death on your soul? lío? Then get me the flas'.c. Do not lose a moment- get it!" He went up to her and grasped her wrist as he ended. He was freatly incensed apainst ber, and vet any personal roughness would have been knpossible to such a man as he. That grasp of her wrist, and, perhaps, the sternness of accusaion in his cnkindled eyes aa well, caused her to sink at his fect. lic had made her of him, and possibly he liad stirred her conscience also. She ■was a woman with an immensity of conscience, though the tremulous words that she now addressed to him would liave implied that she had been very f ar f rom violating one of its high and extremely mystlc laws. "I - I carit give ycu that flask," she stammered, there on her knees before liim. "I - I did hear jtou rave about it when you were out of your mind with lever. I'or that reason I - I carne here into this room - and found it." "Found it!" he faltored, ivith both liands limply falling at his sides. "You mean that you - " "Dcstroyed it. Egbcrt? Ycr,; I lid destroy it." She rose and looked into his glassy eyes as though fearful that mnrder inight be ambushed there. "You - destroyed - it!" he g'asped, receding f rom her. In an instant she saw that there was r.o danger of personal assault, ::nil cshc san!:, brcatliinj heavily, into a chair, she went close to liis side. "Egbert, I thought your irying to do any thing lilce that was a crime - a dreadful crime against God. Ile is Tnerciíul to ns; if it had been I [is will ■that we should live an instant longer than we do naturally live. He would have given us Mis holy sanction. Only vil could have come of yonr discovery, which I believe your intellect qv.ite able to have achieved. But Egbert, it was íor your ov.-n good - f or the sake of your salvation after death - íor - " The voice died in her throat. Iler Irasband's eyes had closed, giving him literally the look of a corpse. "Get me back to bed," he murmurcd. "I have this frightful weakness, and this sense of- " he tried to pronounce the word ■"snffocation," and failed; yet in a few more seconds, and while both hands were puiling at the woolen stuff which ciad his brcast, he demanded, with a good deal of %'ocal clearness, that Dr. Thorndyke should be summoned. After Mswife and a servant had togthcr lïelped him back to his room and bed, lie insisted on retaining the gown in tvhich he had ciad himself . He did not speak ag'ain until Ross Thorndyke arrived, and throngh that interval (which lasted nearly an hour) he lay qtdte motionless, with eyes that wore the vacancy of coma. But the instant Thorndyke appeared he turned, grasping the vigorous and familiar hand of his friend. "Don't forbid me to speak, Ross," ho eaid, with tlie suddcn flash of a forlorn smile. 'Tve only a short time to live. Help this awful load here on my lungs, if you can. But while you"re with me send her f rom the room." 11e glanced toward his wife, who stood at Thorndyke's elbow. "Shf'c been my curse - my murderessl" ';■■' "U's tree, Koes. Make her leave na Thorndylcc turncd to Gcorgina, v,!;o hadbegnn t tremble and weep. IIo went out oí t'iL1 room with her, but soon came back. 111 as he was, Maynard now insisted on talking. He told the ymïnpf doctor a gveat deal, and finally placed in his hands the letter and manuscript for Nylvan. If he i'ailed to state ivhat was the contents oí the envelope, this omission sprang ontirely from his growing bodily distress, which defled Thorndyke'a appeasing entorte. "My dear Egbert," the latter at length Baid, "you really must not speak again. Vb is suicide, and - " ' "If it is!" broke in the man, with despair, born of courage, "I can't last the niht throngh, and you know it, Ross. Ah. if tbere only were a chance to brew that liqnid before I pro! But it would need thrce days, at the very least, and thoseoi almost constant watchinfr." Just as liiij volcc (lied away into a hollow moan (reorg'ina slipped within the room. lier hands were clasped like a suppliant's as she glided up to her husband's bed-side. "Oh, Eg-bert," she quivering-iy said, "forgive me!" 'l'orgive you?" he echoed, with a sneer. "Thief and assassin!" She shrank back%vard an instant, but then rallied and reapproached the bed. "I believed I %vas doing right in the eye of God - I believe it still; I can't help believing it. Rut at the sanie time your aecusation is so horrible. Think: To cali rae your murderess - rnc, the mother of your chuchen! Ah. take back this awful charge, Egbert! I don't deserve it! If - if you should go beiorc yon had the chance of saying not you but your anger spolce, why, then - " '■üoth spoke." lie returned, with a sort of fcy hoarseness in his tone. "You robbed me, r.nd your theft will cause my death. The luw may not cali it murder, but justice calis it so.'" Maynard, while thus speaking, had raised himself quite high on the pillows. As he ceascd, his wiio eaught his hand between both her own. ThornCyke strove to push her back with one arro, while he shot the other beneath the sick man's head as it swerved Bidewaya with abrupt inertia, I!ut Georgina would not be pushed back. A fierce cry left her lips, and she dashed forward, with the exclamation: "Do have mercy on me, Egbert! Do remember - " But thcre she pauscd. The pillow, the bed clothes, had beconie with horrid suddenness one scaiiet witness of her husband's death. And after that death Georgina Mnynard was never again the samo woman. She had been left just enoug-h money to live in fair ease with her two boys, while at the same time f aithfully efliecting their education. When the boys were a little older she removed with them into the country and took up her djwelling" not far from that parsonage of her dead father where Maynard had flrst met her and won her love. Folk said of her that she had grown sour and hard, though it was true that her religious devotions becamo perfervid with the f resh lapso oí years. As a f act, nearly all her cold curtness of manner was an outgrowth of that mental fret wrougfat by remorse: for though the smart of a burn may rouse in us temporary forces of endurunce, what if no lotion should ever dull its pangs, and the nerve centers where lurk our sociality and amiabUity should in consequence turn as unfit for their office as the slackened cords of violins? It was this dreary etate of living that caused Mrs. Maynard to be thought the grimmest and harshest woman in her quiet native English village. She could never refrain from shutting out all her spiritual 6unshine with the dark realization that she had dealt her husband his death. Not that she was ever able to believe her act in destroying the flask a really wrong one. Still, its results (as sho gloomily accounted them) had proved appalling, and for years a ceaseless battle was waged between her shuddering conscience and the self-justifying dicta of her sectarian faith. It was a battle in which neither side ever gained a victory ; her soul was the field in which it continued to bcfought. Onder its long series of cruel shocks her health at last succumbed. She died almost f riendless, and with her two sons, now youths who verged on manhood, standing tearless though reverent while her grave was closed in the placid little English church-yard where her father had long ago lain down to rest. Kot that Sylvan did not inourn her death. Ile was now in his thirdyear at Cambridge, ar.d much in the shaping, thc calïber of liis mind i ' her own. He was prof oundly religious, and at ono timo had thought of taking orders. Then lio had been visited by a 6ense of unworthiness - a doubt of lus eapacity to play any save tin1 moanest part in that throng of humanitarian churchmon whose creeds ho lionored, yet whose intellects he might nevcr equal. More than that, hr; health waa somewhat frail; he liad inherited his father's delicate constitution; the wear and tear of such an ecclesiastic lif the one he should strujjgle tolivewould casily maim his powers. Twoor three years bef ore she died his mother perceived this, and her counsels formed his final reasons for not entering the chureh. On ■ hand, she had fed in him an in for legal pursuits, and now that si td he brooded upon hor advice. 1 [e would by no means be penniless; the h v was an eininently "polite" profession; ene covild practico it thriftily without either oratory or any other sort of aptitude. To be a light in it was another matter, but to be prosperous in it was another still. Poor -'vivan did not perceive the full sareasm of his changing from a would-be rler;x3"man to a wonld-be barrister. Hut one day, not far from the time at whieh lic quitted Cambridge with decent honors, an American fellow-collegian who was taking his degree in the samo ycar made him a very cordial proposition. This gentleman was naiaed .John Wilks Eathbone 3d., and not the least sign of character and personality whieh he possessed was a marked fondness for Sylvan. He liked to record bimself as the grandson of Judge John Willes Rathbone, now on the verge of seventy and still shining in New York as that unhappily too rare personage, one of our judges whose repute no íleck of soilure ha touehed. Sylvan"s friend was an amiable youth, with slender mental endowments and a love for his native land whieh English association could not annul. "I'm an American and I"m proud of it," was a phrase nearly as often on his lips as the Morris cigarettes whieh he bought largely in St. James' street. Ile had been sent to Cambridge by his renowned New York grandsire, and perhaps an important factor of his fondness for Sylvan was the semi-American pareniage of Egbert Maynard's son. Incessant association with English people had never altered his American accent, and at the time of his departure from Cambridge he spoke, as the phrase has it, no less '"through his nose"' than when he had just planted his foot, several years past, on British soil. He was the acute opposite of the Yankee Anglomaniac, and though he let Poole attire him with a modish felicity that might have found favor at Sandringham itself, there was a keen cut of his thln face and a lax abandonment in his lank iigure that told persistently of transatlantic birth. "Come along with me to New York," he kept persuading Sylvcn, "and ES9y for three years to be a lawyer at the Columbia College Law-Sehool. You say you haven't got any relations in Ameriöa exeept consins ever so far removed? All right if you haven't. Grandfathcr '11 give ycu a si art, I know. Grandf ather '11 do any thing I want hira to, eot? that I'vc hmn i' iim that I should go through Cambridge. ISeiidcs, your father was an American, and ycu ought to go back there and live. Oh, it's a magniñeent country, Sylvan, and there a mans a mr.n, can teil you. lic doesn't have to taks of? his hat and truckle and grovcl to cvery lcrd he mects." Sylvan cor:ld net help reflegting that there was a number of "lcrds" jus,tthen at Cambridge by v.-hcm he was certainly not expected to perform anjr such servile acts on meeting thein; but still the idea of "seeing America" and possibly profiting by the splcndor of a stray smile or two from that mighty man, Judge Rathbone, allured him not a little. Ilis brothcr Gerald stood in the way of such a project; he was dearly fond of Gerald, though sometimos thinking1 him almost blasphemous in his indifference to religious things. And yet, Sylvan began to muse, why should a year or so of separation be held of such great account? There had once been enough money for four of them; there would surely be ecough now for two. Every thing had been left by their English mother (who had receivcd all hÏ3 property intact from her American husband) to the cldest-born. But Sylvan was willing to share his last pound with Gerald. Still, both boys wanted more pounds if they could get them, and both were willing to work for them as wcll. But dollars were easier to get than pounds; to this effect young Rathbone sapiently assured the eider brother, who shared the large faith whieh has lately grown up in England that "the States" and quick money-making are very closely allied. Gerald, on his side, fired at the mere idea of an American residence. Ile was íroing to be a doctor, he! Medical questions were already of the deepcst import to him, and as Sylvan one day laurrhingly told him, his Greek roots threatened to turn into those of of rhubarb and quinine. "If that should prove the case," Gerald as gayly answered, "I shall be all the more pleased to transplant them into Western soil. Whenever I go up to London I've a morbid impulse for strolling through Ifarley street. I begin at Cavendish Square and end at Regent's Park; and I count so many doctors' platos on tho door-panels that I grow depressed at their multitude. It consoles me, Sylvan, to reflect that there may be no such place as Ilarlcy street in New York. Perhaps there isn't. I'm decidedly curious to go there and find out for mysclf." As it turned out, Gerald did not make his excursive inquirios for some time af ter he left Cambridge. Sylvan sailed away from him, however, in the company of Rathbone, and later Gerald pursued a course of medical fitudy on English shores. Ilis brother wrote him that he thought this plan best. A man could study to be a physician in one country and seek his patients in another. It was different with a lawyer. "And I'm now a lawyer," Sylvan at length continued to write, "in full blossom of activity. Old Judge Rathbone has been vastly kind to me, and SinCC I'f nwHfcftfl +ya PliimWi, Trw School I flnd his aid a ruby beyond priee. H will serve mo well, 1 fcel moro Hum sure. Keep straight, dea brother, and study hard in the professionyou've chosen. I think that there realiy may be a good chance for you here. I hatcd New ïork al flrst, but I ara fi'.r more reconciled to it now. Much thai the Engliah cali vulgarity in this land is mercly a national difference ín tho way of doinpr things. There are traita of New ïork refinement that can beat some London ones 'all hollow.' as you would say, dear boy." Af tor severa! more rnonthscame a letter that shocked and by no means pleasi ' ' had quite Buddenly married o American girl wliom he described as posses mueh beauty and every cliarin of culturo. Her name was Lucia Fythlan, and she was the daughter of a gentleman who now was dead but who once had been a jurist of frreat note. "Lucia is his orphan chii-i-," wrote Sylvan, "and when I first v-sA Zier she was the ward öf an austero aunt who sowed the household air with little jibes and sneers if her poor niece ventured to ask for a new pair of gloves. It was horrible, Gerald, and it woke my warm pity. Love soon slipped into my heart by the same door which pity had left ajar. I daré say it is often jnst like that with us; don't you think it is? Well, Lucia is my wife, now, and a fond little wife she makes. I am perfectly happy - or would be but for yourself, dear brother. Of course I always can spare you something until your own future prov.-ess puts you firmly on your fect. Still, you will understand that my living expenses must now undergo a marked augment, and - '" Gerald read no more, for the present, but erushed the paper in one hand with his fair Saxon skin crimsoning below his sunny locks. Itwas cruel of Sylvan to serve him such a triek! I5ut never mind; he would move heaven and earth, now, to show that he could shift for himself. This was the onjnst British law of primogeniture. Still, let Sylvan keep all, since he legally had it. 'Til live on a crust a day," fumed Gerald, "rather than play pensioner. This Lucia Fythlan (who possibly married Sylvan just to get those pairs of glovcs that her aunt was so stingy about giving her) shan't be bored by any Dnieance of a brother-in-law overseas. ['11 turn sweep first; by Jove I will I" But as il happened, there was noneed for Gerald to torn sweep. Ilardly a day after he had made tlii, proud resolve, a stranger called ;:t his rather htimble lodginga Gerald read "Dr. Ross Thorndyko" on the card handod him, without at flrst the faintcst thrill of memory. Soon afterward it flashed pon him that hifi father's oíd Cambridge friend had borne that name, and he went to meet Dr. Thomdylic with a sparkle in his azure eye and heartiness in his handgrip which cheered the visitor like a magical draught. "I see lots of your father in you," Eoss Thorndyke at length said. "Hifi cyes were gray, but yours would be exactly like them if they were not blue. And so your brother Sylvan is in America? How unfortunate that I sboulil not have known it, who have lived in Chicago for an age. I might so easily have looked him up before I boarded the steamer in Xew York." "It's too bad that you didn't know he was thcre," said Gerald. "You told me a few minutes ago, I think, that you greatly wanted to see him." "Yes, greatly. I crossed the ocean for that purpose." "Just to see Sylvan? Really?" Dr. Thorndyke slowly nodded. He seemed to muse in the most absorbed way. Gerald watched bis aged and altered face. That grayish beard, those lined features, that baldness which ennobled his fine brow just as it sometimes betrays and cheapens others- all were marks of change that had their saddening effect upon his own youth. For it is trxie of u.s that when we are young tne matured features of those whom we have last looked on as freed from all time's harsher touches, assume ominous hints umi meaninga which have their roots in our human hatred of either senility or death. ';Yes," replied Dr. Thorndyke, "just as you say, to see Sylvan. And he's married, you teil me, and you've but yesterday heard the news. IIüs it depressed you?" "Very much," Gerald murmured. Then he said more, and while he said it his father's old friend most intently listenod. "Gerald," he broko forth, as the young man flnished, "'I know exactly why this marriage has disturbed you. You're not yet through your course of medical study here in England. You're afraid. But my boy, don't fear a minute longer." And lie put out his hand, which Gerald gTasped, with a strange hope beginning to bloom and brighton in his soul. 'I have the world to iace all alone, sir, now," said Gerald. "That ia, I hate to be dopendent on Sylvan, who can hereafter ill afTord." "I onderstand," shot in Thorndyke. His face beamed kindliness as he pursued: "We must arrangc all that. Vc can, my boy, and we shall. But first e answer me a question: IIow old is Sylvan?" Gerald rcflected for a moment, and then said: "lie laeks a few months of five-and-twenty." "He lacks a few months? You're sure? I'm very glad to hear it. I'm euqrmously glad to hearit." He contlnüed to apeak with lowered eyes and mouth pursed rumiñatively. "I didn't want to be too late. 1 dreaded that I might be. And I wanted to be on time." "On time?" repeated Gerald. Thorndyke lifted bis eyes. "Yes. Thcro were rea "Dr. Thorndyke," the young taan returned, cnrloua and mystiflcd, "map I asi; yon. sir, wliaí those reaeons uro'.1" "Oh; nothing," ansered the doctor. "Nothing, I ossure yon." But Gerald w:is secretly very dissatisfied with that "nothing," wïdch struck hhn as less diplomatic tiian repellent. CHAPTER IV. Soon, hoivcvci', Dr. Thorndyke changed the ourrent of talk in a way that was fraught for bis hearer both with Interest and distraction. "I should have known oi your own and Sylvan'swhereabouts," he said, "if relations of a friendly sort had remained between your mother and mjself after your father'a 5eoi;. l!ut unhappily this was not the cue." "I never knew," begun Gerald, "Of course yon never knew, my dear boy," was the interruption. Vhy should eithcr yon or Sylvan have known? You were both tooyoung-. Your mother and I did not harmonizo; let me end there, at my moment of beginning'. Soon after your father'a death I went to America. ín Chicago I became prosperous with a speed and to a degree thatsurprisedmyself. I obtained a good practice, but that was all. Funds which I invested ín land soon bred me amazing profits. I'm rich, üerald, and have no near kindred except an oíd aunt or two whoin I should be doing an ill turn if I thrust any thing like luxury into the peaceful tenor of their days. I loved your f ather, and I'm prepared to be a second f ather to Sylvan and yourselí. ín any case, pride or no pride (for I seo a rebellious glitter creeping into your eyes) you must let me help you along through the rest of your studies, my boy, and afterward, who knows what may happen afterward? I shouldn't be surprised if I set up a partnership with you as my 'junior associate.' Wouldn't that be jolly, eh?" and Thorndyke smote Gerald on the shoulder, with the air of one who desires to whelm all scruples of the receiver in the giver's voluminoua good-will. As a real fact, Ross Thorndyke had no further intention of practicing again through the rest of his life-time. Perhaps he would never have returned to Eng-land but for the purpose of sceking out Sylvan Maynard and placing in his hands that packet of papers which his dying father had bequeathed him. But now Thorndyke lingered in his native land for several months, at the end of which he and Gerald had become sworn friends. All Gerald's pride had melted into thinnest air. He perceived how disinterested was the goodness of his father's friend; he recognized Thorndyke's right to aid him; and for this most kindly of nevv-comers he soon conceived an affection that was filial. ■Yhen Thorndyke sailed for ïsew York in the autumn of that same year, it was with the understanding between Gerald and himself that the former should l'ollo%v him by the middle of spring. Sylvan's twenty-íiíth birthday would occur almost at the time of the doctor's arrival. Thorn}yke wondored what sort of an impression Gerald's brother and sister-in-iaw would produce upon him. From certain letters of Sylvan's, recently scen, he had formed an idea that he was fated never to care for this heir of the Maynards as he had already g-ot to care ior üerald. And lus premonitions proved rip-ht. Sylvan was living, at this time, in a small house near the upper portion of Park avenue, lle had a pretty home, which only nseded the laughter and foot-patterincfs of cliildren to raake it n cliarming' one. Thornclyke, a rnan who had nevermarried, a man who in earlier liie had suffered a piercing disappointment with whieh this little chronicle of other affairs than his need not deal, and a man who now cared for all the lures of womanhood about in the i-ame way that he eared for the Murillo in the National Gallery or the noble Btatue of Lord Lawrencc in Waterloo T'lace, had no soonerseen Lucia Maynard, the wife of Sylvan, than he pronounced her a woman replete with charra. She had abundant bronze-hued hair, with eyebrows and eyela=hes that werc dark as ink. Her eyes were large. liquid, beautifnl; you had to look at thcin for some time before you knew whether black or yellowish-brown prevailod in them. As for her features, if they were not perfect, their relations, cuch to each, must have been delighthdly so, for you forg-ot their dt-fects in the subtle spell wroug-ht by this peculiar concord. She had a warmth of tint that rarely deepened into rose. Her smile, which ilawless teeth by no raeans marred, scldom lit her face, bilt whun its bright mystic funds were dravrn upon it dwelt in the rmem brinco Uke echoes of dulcet sounds. Thorndyke promptly saw that phe had married a man who had ucer stirred in her ono passionnte thrill. Not that she seemed a woman who desired or demanded the homage which cvokes passion. lier tall and well-molded shape had the effect, both in movement and repose, of that placid dignity which bespeaka a kind of sexual indifference. And yct, as he watched her more keenly, he told himself that ha discovered in her the unresi oi some thwarted ambition. Was it a craving for wealth, for social prominence? Ile decided to wait and discover. She interested him so acutely that he w;is haontc(l by this iilcn of waiting and discovering. Meanwhile Sylvan'a welcomes were alwaya warm. He had indeed disappointed the doctor, and especially ufter knowing 'and loving Gerald. Syvlan ivas no reflection of his brother - not even a palé and neutral one. He expressed for Thorndyke all the conservatism of his raothcr and all (in the judgment of this new observer) his mother's rigid wrongheadedness. Thorndyke was iu many ways a frce-thinker, and Gorald's fearless liberalisms had vastly pleased him. He hardly knew what to mswer, one day, when Sylvan said, in ïefercnce to his brother: "I supposo Gerald now and then grcatly shoekcd yöu. 1 Ie often shocked me. lint he had got to represent the severely radical element at Cambridge by the time I bade him g'ood-bye." "My husba;sd. b2fc.ves in beingconventional," said his wife, before the doctor could frame a fitting response. Thorndyke started a little, and looked at her. "And have you no such belief?" he inquired. She gave a short, gay, non-comrnittal laugh. "Oh, I take things as I find them - or try to." That "try to" haunted Thorndyke. He would sometimes watch Sylvan and think how thoroughly his stooped frame and largo, gray, restless eyes betokened that he liad inherited his father's body, and yet how dominant in him was tht pious, conservative spirit of his mother. lieing ignorant of what the packet confided him by Egbert Maynard rcally contained, Thorndyke wondered whether it might not vork trouble in the natiure of this sensitive, God-fearing soul. If it were, as he suspected, certain tidings which concerned that once-trcasured elixir, might it not produce In Sylvan something of the same mental revolt and disarray years ago wakened in the mother whbm he so resembled? On Sylvan's twenty-fifth birthday Thorndyke formally and privately delivered the packet. Sylvan did not open it in his presence. The young man seemed deeply impressed by the very tidings of such a legacy. "Will he teil his wife any thing concerning it?" thought Thorndyke. "VVell," he proceeded to muse, "if Lucia is left in ignorance of its contents it will be just like his secretire, timorous temperament." The elixir had always appealed to Thorndyke in no other light than that of a melancholy joke. He was a no less devout disciple of science than his dead friend had been; but that any concoction of the kind described to him by Maynard on his death-bed could possibly be accredited with the potency declared of it was like calling the grass blue and the sky green. Several more meetings occurred between Sj'lvan and the doctor, and still no ref erence to the packet was made. One evening Thorndyke presented himself whcn the master of the house chancee! to be absent. Knowing how rare was any such cccurrcnce unless Sylvan went out in his wife's company, the visitor said to Lucia, when she appeared and graciously greeted hiin: "IIow odd th;t your lord should have loít home of an evening unaccompanied by his lady! I suppose yon gave hiin full authority to desert you?" Lucia dropped into an easy chair. "Oh! yes. It's a meeting of some lawyers' club, I believe, to whieh he belongs." "And you don't mind being leít alone?" Shc shrugged her fina and shapely shoulders. "I never cure to be alone. Uut I don't mind if Sylvan leaves me now and then. It isn't that." Thorndykc pretended to appear dismayed. "W'hat are these dreadful revelations? You want other society than Sylvan's?" She gave him the faintest smile of indifference, as though she ignored this question, or rather as though she chose to put it capriciously aside. "I'm very fond of life," she said, slipping both hands behind her head and clasping them there, so that her back-fallen sleeves evidenced the swelling pearl of her arms, from neat wrist to dimpled elbow. "But life as I long to have it and know it isn't for me. Sylvan cares nothing at all about living, in my sense of the word. " "And pray teil me what is your sense of the word?" "Oh! to mix with people and enjoy your youth. He doesn't care to do that. Besides, we haven't money enough to do it. He doesn't complaim about any slimness of the household purse. llo Iets me spend more dollars than J ovight to spend. But we're nobodies - that is, we're nobodies from my point of view." "And what is being a somebody here in New York - from your point of view?" "I laving' lots of money - giving fine entertainments. You're a nonentity here, if you don't. It doesn't make the: remotest diffcrence who your grandfa-j ther was. If you haven't a big bank account you're sent to the wall." "And you're tired of being sent to tho .wall?" Lucia Maynard sighed. "I'm tircd of Hot living." "And you think that not being fashionable is not living?" "Oh, no. But I think not knowing certain people - refined, attractive people- is ahnest like death itself." -- j m; uxoopeu nis ncuu moment and pulled at his gray mus tache. "Wi'll, alter all, is death s horrible?" "Dei echoed, with a sudde flerceness of míen. "Oh, I thlnk it i frightfull 1 iU '.o hate the idea of dy ingl Don't you?" Aiid as she leanec toward bh . ith the ii; ' i ■■■ nearlam Bendi i ■■ir-cut piiHT and pa )or c I . throat and chin, it oc eur:e.'.tremcl; beautiful. Kot annaturally he thought "f th soalcil maimacript i1. l,i:'li of I ite lie ha deliveivd ta e r huaband. And thou while remi ml .'ri:; this, ho also reco' lected íxir (that "infernal nonseriM- ■ ot to cali it) which mi ■■ .' formei 'the ;'i't and pith of Egb rt Maynard's bef;: "if y u so hate the dd i '.f dying," he said, inwardly stirred by the idea of hisown bolduess and imprudence, "you nolghi i reod -. itli interest the f arewi vhich Sylvan's father left him and wïifeJï S itliverod to him on li is i . th birthday. Or, it may be, your husband did not show you what I gave if that is true, Uien "Yes, yes," she broke in, with an eagernese that was violenoe. "He dicl show me that letter - tliat singular letter. I - I have been thinking of it ever sinee; I can't keep mymind from dweil on it. Did j'ou not consider it a most amazing message?" "1 might jndge better," replied Thorn dyke, "if I could know what it wa like." "Why, didn't you know?" she fa] tered. "I thought you were his inti mate friend." "I was - and at one time his very intímate friend. Though he never told me what was inside that envelope, I can guess its contents." Ile continued speaking for some time and ended with these words: "Of course it was a wild dream of Egbert Maynard's. Now and tlien the íinest human intelleets are beguilcd just in this way." He saw her face f all, and then watched her as she nervously bit her lips. "You speak from your own experience as a chemist," she said, and the ring of disappointment in her voice was plain to him as would have been her tears if shed from the troublcd glooms of her eyes. "I'm not a chemist," Thorndyke hastened to reply; "I'm a physician - or was." lier looks brigh tened again. "Then you do not speak with any real certainty, af ter all." "Ah, my dear lady! As if one could not be sure we had left the elixir of life and the philosophcr's stone both very far indeed behind!" "Uut this l;quefaction of electricity which Sylvan's dead father describes - for which he offers the very formula of preparation - -would you assert tiat to be impossible?" "I would - yes." Lucia mused for a moment, and then gave her head so earnest a negative shake that its fiossy bronze-brown loops of huir emittcd flashes in the la-mplight like those from polished mahogany. "Kat jxm are stating, in so many words," she exclaimed, "that Egbert Mayhard vas a madman." '"Tliere are many sane madmen in the world." She struck the edge of her chair impatiently with one elenched hand. "That is no answcr. So inany thingps no more wondcrful than his assumed inventionfoirehappened. To concéntrate the vital principie of all existenee - I see more extraordinary in it than to achieve the telegraph, the telephone. At least, I can't understand why it should be scoñ'ed at bef ore it is tried." Thorndyke laughcd. "I don't scoff at it," he said. '"Uut it is like having1 some one teil you that he had constructed an apparatus by means of whieh you could see round a corner." "I can imagine such an apparatus being constructed." "One can imagine the miraculous," conceded Thorndyke, with a sinile oí skeptic amusement gleamingf ïetween his gray-bearded lips. "Bnt I don't suppose that your husl;nd will object to testiny the truth or falsity of what his father so fírmly believed.'' Lucia once more shook her head, and this timo with a forlorn motion. "Object! You don't know him. Ile's already afraid of that prescription as thoug-h it were a cobra." "Afraid ;f it?" "Assuredly." "And why?" queried Thorndyke, witH a sudden recollection of how his dead friend's dead wile had once deported her "Why?" Lucia repeated. Slis made a quick little g-esture of exaqperation and disgust. "Ile'a ;i tremendously religious man, this husband of mine. Didn't you know that? Havent you seen it? I think that f rom some Bacred sense of filial respect hc would never destroy those papers, liut he's already locked them up somewhere, and regrets that he ever allowed me to gain aglimpse of them." "You say that he's afraid of them?" asked Thorndyke, pierced with memories of Georyiua Jlaynard's past beha vior. "Yes. They flll him with horror. I don't know if he has any f aith in the chemical marvels they suggest. Buthe remembers that his inother more than once told him of how his father died an infidel." "Ah!" said her listener, drawingalong breath. He feit a.s if some speeterwere in the room, viewless and yet palpable. "I sec, Sylvun believea - " "That there would be something blasphcmous about such an achievement," broke in Lucia, "even if it could possibly be made." SJie rose, and for a moment appeared to listen intontly "That is ho now," she at length said, in a (luirle, low, warning way and almost immediately Sylvan entered. The doctor stayed for nearly an hour Jonger, but this time there was no resumption of the subject on which his wife and Thorndyke had been cngaged. "He wishes to let it pass unmentioned from this timo forward," the doctor told himself. "Ah! how heredity spoaks here! And what a difterence between the brothers! It is so easy to imagine Gerald i'ull of ardor to try the truth of what his father has asserted, inötead of being browbeatcn at the outset by paltry, superstitious fears." As more days went on, the doctor fel piqued by Sylvan's continued rcticcnce Not t ■ Hable regardinj t trust faithfully kept for many years Such i course was tinctured with the dis-relisli oí erude manners, to say noth ing of ít in;)iv Bevere. By thia time Thorndyke's term t.f sojourn in New York had almost dra wn toa close. Lie had found his investments and gen eral I a i ínteresta os :i property holdcr in and near Chicago made it in eonvenient if not quite impossible to remain much longer in the East. Be siüés, he had become fond of the huge town that has sprung up with so magia a speed ií perhaps with an over-grea' willingncss to be a trille too impressec by itself os a proi i elt ai tua home-sick longings t. gaze again on someof ti. features of it which lonf;' i immigrant Englislunan he had roundly ridiculed. Ite decided that he would raake nc attempt to break the Ice with Sylvan. It was ice oí the young man'a own freezing; let it !iv rigid if he so willed. lettirs smc from Chicago, and Thorndyke resolved to start al once. Before doing so he-said to .Sylvan that his brother would b on arriye in New York and that it would oí course be better for Gerald to remaiu there a month or so before ííoinpf intothe West. "As regards your brcther's feelings on the question of praetising his new profession eithcr here or in Chicago," he continued, "that is a matter which I shall want hira wholly to decide for himself. My friend, IJr. Clyde, in East Thirtieth str ct, uill always be his friend and counsellor. Clyde is young", and a trifle too imaginativo I sometimes think for a physician. I!r.t he is immensely clever, has won a brilliant repute as a specialist in nervous diseases, and promises me that he will aid Gerald in eveiy possible way." Sylvan seemed to refleet for a brief while on the frank and genial sentences just heard. "ThanS you very much," he presently said. "You have been so kind to Gerald that I am sure he must appreciate it most gratefully." "Confound the fellow!" Thorndyke said to himself after quitting Sylvan's door-step. "lie couldn't give me any heartier or more graceful answer than that! I can understand how his legal ability has alrcady made him a lawyer with strong promise oí success. Thank fate for the few men in this world who aje not bom either flint or pulp. I begin to think that character is the one thing we erave in our fellow-mortals, whether it bc saintly or devilish." And then a self-accusing smile gleamed on Dr. Thorndyke's face as he moved onvard amid the ugly brownstone perkiness and "stylishness" of Fifth avenue. "After all," his musings proceeded, "what character have I? If ever there was a being without the vaguest social individuality, such a biped is Ross Thorndyke." No doubt he was right in just the social sense of which he had made mental note. Uut when all is said, how ofteri more potent as a factor of life is the heart richly brimming with kindness, the brain full of fraternity, humanitarianism, help! Those people who are "individual," who have angles of personality on which description can hang its essays of portraiture, are not by any means always the choicest to know, feel with and for, make friends of and clierish, in the surety of their standing cogent tests. Thorndyke lightly denounced himself as colorless, but his place in whatever landscape of life this or that observer might have placed him would have resembled some strong and full-boughed tree which never Htrudes itself with the least salienc ;, yet can not be exiled f rom the picture without calamity of discord. He left the Maynard household, on taking his journey to Chicago, with thoughts of Sylvan that were hurt though not at all malevolent. He pcrceived, from certain parting words of Lucia's, delivered in aside while her husband was present, that affairs weighed onerously on her spirit. "He's more stubborn than ever," the young wifc had fonnd tima swiftly to whisper, and her distressed undertone echoed itself in his ears like a knell tortured into fantastic cries by the train-clamors of his westward trip. He had indeed left Lucia in a very mhappy frame of mind. The idea of the so-named elixir had taken liold of her imagination with a savage though vert íorce., Not her husband, she had thus f ar secretiy exulted in the iossession of a distinct power over him, seldom used, though relied on as a deep reserved fund. Ilis firm refusal that she should again look upon the letter and manuscript lately delivered him, ïad first astonished and then ired her. A coldncss grew up between them. eacli aware of tne other's reason for )reserving it. liut Lucia was the first .o chang-e these mutual conditions. Her Ireams were uow f uil of the precious Irug concerning whieh Sylvan chose to maintain so piquing and mystio a sience. Did he then heliere in its efficacy? ïad he acquired some positive knowledge on that head? The very thoug-ht almost took Lucia's fcreath away. Her ïusband, as she could not help feeling quite certain, would searcely hesitate wtween burying the bequest under nrofound secresy and aüowing just herelf alone to profit by it, even were he ure that it meant a genuino victory for cience. The more that she brooded over the chances of hls piety taking -his dog-in-the-manger form, the more he feit her nerves distressf ully tingle, lis scruples of a religiois kind had not elflom bored her since their marriage; rat these affected hor with shuddering moods of disgust and dhagTin, On a certain evening, f our or five days after Thorndyke had departed, Lucia and Sylvan sat together at dinner. Jessert and coffee had been placed on .he table; the sorvant had slipped from ,he room. They had just been spdtikng (both rather li.stlcssly) of Gerald's ctendeil voyage, when all ;;t once it 1 Lncig to say: "One ean't help wondering what you Tvill teil your brother when he aska you bout that packet whieh Dr. Thornyke recently gave you." Sylvan ■. irted, eolored, and then towned al I B prided himself upon ! i:. and !u wl l to bis v. ij bardly il] :r key tiian when hi 01 thought of DlCllLUJiHl) LiU ftujL'CL IJ liiill. Vïliy shoulri I do so, pray?" Lucia !■ :i.'i to slide one white finertip alonfj the riin 'pie fing"erbowl. '"ït would Bimply be natural i: you did tel) him; that i - a!l." "I don't agfree with you," he answc- Uy. "You dida't tliink it innatural," sho said, [f me i 1 questionec you on the bject." "I did not rebuff yon. I gafre yon al the informatioii it was right to give. More than that. even Better it I had proscrved complete sileni e." tíie Qashed him a look aeróos the prctly little table, with its glimmers of silver and glass. "Why would it have been better?" she asked. "What has caused you to rate me as unworthy of your coniidences?" "It isn't that," he retorted, brusquely ênough, for him, and tossing his head with a show of the most unusual intolerance. "I explained to you; I explained fully. Your curiosity is unwarranted; it's rapacious, in f act." She gave a high, chili laug-h. "Because I'in iuterested in what struck me as the grent work of a striking intellect." He smiled sourly. "Of an impious mind." "You're speaking of your own father." "Yes - more's the pity." "And then you hold his accomplishment as merely impious? You don't rank it as a fine and successful etroke of scientific insight?" He answered, at first, with a dogged shake of the head. "I don't know any thing about the brain-power it displays. Nor I want to know. I've hidden the thing away - locked it up. I oug-ht to have burned it. It smells of Egbert Maynard's atheism. Only the fact of his being my father has prevented me from destroying it. Some day I shall. Some day I feel that I shall." Lucia sprang up from her chair, with sparkling eyes and trembling Ups. "You shall not! You must not!" she exclaimed. He stared at lier as though dumfounded by her ve'.'r.ienee. "In the name of God," he V. lied, "what has got !;old of you? You -e boon a different woman for days l.i it those cursed pi :ces of paper? Kor a good while I've they'd 1. v. itoh yoa Xow I'ia surf they have!"


Old News
Ann Arbor Courier